The Washburn fire doubled in size over the weekend, ballooning to more than 2,300 acres as it raged across central California. The fire has reached the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park and is threatening the beloved giant sequoias, which are over a thousand years old.
To protect the roughly 500 sequoias in the grove, firefighters have installed a sprinkler system to keep the ground moist and prevent the wildfire from engulfing the trees. In addition, they have wrapped the historic Galen Clark cabin in a protective foil to keep it safe from the flames.
“The combination of the removal of the hazard fuels and the prescribed burning that we’ve done, with the temporary sprinkler system that is in place, we are confident that’s giving those giant sequoias the best protection available,” Nancy Phillipe, a park ranger with Yosemite Fire, told CNN.
The Washburn fire, which is 0% contained, is expected to keep growing due to the continued hot and dry weather. However, Phillipe said she is confident that the sequoias will be fine, nothing that they are “very fire-resistant.”
Yosemite’s south entrance remains closed to visitors, and officials have ordered anybody in the Wawona area and the Mariposa Grove to evacuate. While the rest of the park is open, officials advised travelers to expect longer lines than usual and warned that the wildfire smoke could create unhealthy air conditions throughout the park.